More than just a book dispenser

It has been less than a month since Jordi Souto and his brother, Ramon, inaugurated this bookshop, a cultural space that avoids “elitism and pedantry”

Why a new bookshop, when you had no ties to the industry?
The closure of El Punt de Llibre bookshop a couple of years ago left a gap in the Lleida bookshop ecosystem. We thought there was this gap to fill and it was a good time to do it. The pandemic has given rise to another kind of need. The project was received with great enthusiasm. The bookshop is a family initiative. I’m a language and literature teacher at a secondary school. My brother, Ramon, comes from the world of technology and business and wanted to change his career. We set it up, but we surrounded ourselves with a team of specialists, who helped us a lot; it’s a collective project with the aim that the whole city of Lleida takes it to its heart.
It’s the second bookshop to open in Lleida after la irreductible (spelt in lower case) did so in December.
Neither we nor la irreducible knew about each other’s project. It’s all linked to what we said before, the closure of El Punt de Llibre leaving Lleida orphaned. The proof of that is two initiatives being conceived in parallel, without any connection, with the idea that it was time to fill the gap. This is good news, and we’re on different sides of the city, so we complement one another.
La Fatal also has a courtyard and a room for cultural events. You’re not here just to sell books.
We followed a reverse process: we started with the desire to create this space and saw that, to keep it going from day to day, the ideal thing was to complement it with the bookshop. We wanted to highlight this cultural space. The bookshop mustn’t be a simple dispenser of books, because we have other solutions to that. We wanted to reconcile the two, but with an emphasis on cultural programmes.
What are your criteria for selecting books?
It’s a bookshop dedicated to reading and thinking, and there are no textbooks or technical books. We have a large narrative section, another with essays, there’s a space dedicated to poetry – we have more than 1,000 poetry titles; and there’s a children’s and youth bookshop in the same space, which has a name of its own, La Fataleta. We want everyone to find their space here. We don’t undervalue any kind of reader; we all read what we read, what we do want is to provide hints or alternatives for everyone to go outside of their usual routine. Everything is very much on view and this gets people interested.
You say you want to eliminate “the world of elitist and pedantry culture...”
Yes, we have come to act as disseminators, as promoters of reading, not to create barriers or distances. We want everyone to find their space and hopefully get out of their most comfortable habitat and experiment with other reading. But if we close the door on them by saying that here we only read Serbo-Croatian poetry translated into Dutch, we’re not getting it right!
Now you’ve experienced your first St. Jordi, in the middle of a pandemic.
We’re not particularly enthusiastic about St. Jordi. The aim is to make sure that St. Jordi’s Day doesn’t become the only day when people buy books. We want to provide the strategies, spaces and tools so that it can be St Jordi’s Day on a regular basis, a few times a year.

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